Health insurance woes strangling rural America

FarmedicAid?: Excellent piece about how access to affordable health insurance is a major barrier for small business owners and farmers in rural America. One-third of farmers and ranchers depend on individual insurance — four times the rate for everyone else — and in many cases those premiums come with such a high deductible that they’re basically just catastrophic, let-s-not-lose-the-farm insurance, not allowing access to regular or preventive care. (NPR)

3 Responsesto “Health insurance woes strangling rural America”

  1. I’m not surprised at this. If you were to look at small businesses in urban areas, you’d probably find the same or very close, statistics for health insurance for those business owners. As the owner of two small businesses – construction contracting, and a farm business – all I could possbly afford is catastrophic insurance with a $10,000 deductible.

    So many people who are employees, which make up the majority of voters, assume that people who own businesses are rich fat cats living like leaches off the labor of their employees, and while some are, I feel that the majority of small business owners, aren’t and don’t. It would be nice to see some kind of legislation or policy making geared toward making health insurance more affordable to the self employed, in both the urban and rural areas.

    In my own state of Oregon, when the state healthcare plan came out – the Oregon Health Plan – a provision was put in so that employers could provide health insurance to their employees for $25/month. For people like myself, a sole proprietor with myself as the only ‘employee’ in my companies, there was nothing. I don’t even get the deduction for my own health insurance that I would get if I provided it to an employee. I can’t even incorporate in Oregon, hire myself, and then give myself health insurance as a benefit, because the state either has or is preparing to raise the corporate minimum tax to $1,000/year, so even if I break even, I’ll still owe taxes.

    Things are not set up, regulation wise, to encourage or enable the purchase of health insurance for the self employed. Especially when the premiums are so high for decent coverage.

  2. Ernie Geefay says:

    I am a self employed video producer. 
    I too have only a catastrophic healthcare plan with Blue Shield.
    Deductible $10,000
    Premiums for my wife and myself $900
    We’ve stopped using the American Healthcare system and now rely on medical in
    Thailand.  Every November we hop on a 14-18 fight to Bangkok where we take care of all our dental and medical needs.  The service is excellent , the doctors are more than qualified, the equipment is often better than my  local US hospital, and the price……usually about 1/10th the cost of the same procedure in the US.
    At those prices you don’t even need insurance.
    Last November I had a procedure done for a condition I have known as dysphagia.  It’s a simple outpatient procedure in the US that costs about $2500 in the US.  Cost in Thailand …$100.

    The only reason I have health insurance in the US is in case of a catastrophic emergency like an auto accident or a heart attack.

    Basically I pay for all my own medical bills out of pocket since my deductible is so high. 

    But because medical expenses are so outrageously expensive in the US , if you have any assets, you can’t afford not to have insurance.    For example, our US hospital told us that the cost to replace a pacemaker battery could cost anywhere from $25,000-$50,000 if it involved a ONE NIGHT stay in the hospital!!!!
    Cost in Thailand….for a brand new St. Jude pacemaker and a required one night’s stay in the best hospital in Bangkok….$5,000.

    You can be sure we’ll be going to Thailand the next time the battery runs low.

    The US medical system is DEAD ON ARRIVAL!!!

  3. Really this is not specific to rural or to farmers. I can’t buy insurance but it has nothing to do with farming or even our being rural. We did buy insurance for a long time because it was a ‘should’ but it cost $15,000 a year. That was with deductibles and co-pay such that we would have paid the first $60,000 a year in medical expenses. I finally stopped buying insurance. It was costing too much for too little value. It is just the way the system is setup. Not working for a big corporation means buying individual insurance at a high cost or going with out. I live carefully. Very carefully.